Oscars EPs Tease Reunions, Cameos and Other Surprises: ‘You Shouldn’t Know Everything’

Executive producers Raj Kapoor, Katy Mullan and Molly McNearney promise a “healthy dose” of “Barbenheimer” at the 96th Academy Awards

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While this Sunday’s Oscars are already set to feature Ryan Gosling and Mark Ronson performing “I’m Just Ken” alongside a star-studded lineup of presenters, there’s even more surprises in store for audiences, according to the ceremony’s EPs.

“Everything you know about the show so far is not just the show — there are more things coming,” EP and showrunner Raj Kapoor told TheWrap. “There will be night-of surprises and cameos and other special moments. That’s part of the fun of watching a live show — you shouldn’t know everything that’s going to happen.”

So far, presenters for 96th Academy Awards ceremony include Steven Spielberg, Bad Bunny, Michael Keaton, Regina King, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Hemsworth, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kate McKinnon, Rita Moreno, John Mulaney, Anya Taylor-Joy and Ariana Grande, among dozens of other actors and nominees. Jimmy Kimmel returns as host.

“We’ve got a huge amount of presenters and talent who run the absolute range from total Hollywood legends to that younger generation, and there’s a lot of those people are gonna be in the audience as well,” executive producer Katy Mullan added.

EP Molly McNearney also confirmed there will be a “couple of reunions” over the course of the awards show, saying, “There’ll be some people you’ll like to see back together.”

Some of these reunions might happen as winners in the four major acting categories — Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress — present the honors to the 2024 winners, bringing back a beloved format from the 2009 Oscars. Last year’s winners Brendan Fraser, Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis are confirmed as presenters, though details about additional former winners are being kept under wraps.

“We really loved it when they did it before … it’s really beautiful to watch someone win an award and then immediately become part of this group,” McNearney said. “It is a really exciting thing to put together because we are finding connections between current nominees and former winners and making it much more personal this year.”

Whether the tradition will continue into future ceremonies depends on the following year’s producers, according to McNearney, who noted that the “only hesitation is time — we’ve got 23 awards to get in three-and-a-half hours.”

The Oscars will also lean into the “Barbenheimer” craze of the summer, with the producers teasing there will be a “healthy dose” of both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” in the ABC telecast.

“We all feel super lucky that we’re producing the Oscars in the year with so many popular movies. ‘Barbenheimer’ was a huge deal at the box office, and going to the cinema is an event again,” Mullan said. “We’re finding ways to celebrate all the nominees — all the Best Picture [nominees], as well as all the best songs.”

After the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes prompted a tumultuous 2023 for the industry, the producers predict the resolutions of the labor disputes will make this year’s ceremony even more “joyful.”

“I know there’s potentially more [labor disputes] coming, but I think the evening is a celebration of everyone being back at work doing the things they love,” McNearney said, referencing a potential IATSE strike. “It feels particularly nice this year to be have everyone in that room together after what everyone went through.”

This year’s Oscars ceremony begins one hour earlier than usual at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on ABC, and will be immediately followed by a special episode of “Abbott Elementary.”

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